Collins Regional Historical Society looks back on past and forward to new activities

The Collins Regional Historical Society’s winter hiatus has come to an end. Group members are pleased with the steps taken in its infancy and 2014 looks promising. While a charter from New York state has not yet been granted, it is hoped that will soon change.

During the society’s first year those involved have gathered an extensive digital library, including out-of-print books, area census records and ship manifests. The headstones from several of the smaller cemeteries have been photographed and volunteers have started on the larger cemeteries. Burial lists have been made from the headstones photographed. Obituaries and death notices for nearly half of those buried in the Collins Center Cemetery have been secured. Extensive lists of original pioneers in the area have also been gathered.

There is a robust membership for such a relatively new organization. However, there is need for more – more volunteers, more researchers, more members, more people interested in fundraising, writing, editing, acting, directing, producing, research, videography, archaeology, and of course, history.

One of the group’s main concerns is preparation of the town for the celebration of its bicentennial in March 2021. In order to properly celebrate, people must understand what the town’s forefathers experienced and how they managed to enter a world of wilderness and turn it into a thriving community.

The society members will discuss future fundraisers, including those to be earmarked for specific purposes such as a bicentennial celebration including restoration of the town and restoration of cemeteries and local burial grounds. Other concerns include the reestablishment of historical markers that have been lost to time, and marking the graves of the veterans of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and the more recent military actions in Afghanistan and the Middle East as well as locating and marking the graves of the early settlers. Locating early settlers’ graves includes mapping out the exact area of burial grounds, cleaning up the areas, and locating actual graves by a matter of dowsing and archaeological site excavation in order to safely procure headstones or pieces of headstones that may still exist.

Members will also discuss the possibility of hosting historical movies and a historical book club not only for members, but for the community at large. Additionally members are considering organizing field trips, also open to the public, which will be enjoyable as well as educational.

Members would also like to video our elders, allowing them to make a permanent record of their memories of the town of Collins and village of Gowanda, before their memories are lost to us forever.

The Collins Historical Society has big dreams; these dreams cannot be realized without members, volunteers, and funding.

Anyone wishing to learn what the society is about, or who would like to become a member can attend a meeting on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. at the L K Painter Center community room, at 7 p.m. Members hope middle and high school scholars will join the group and learn how the area’s past can unlock their future.